Development of refrigerant-free, energy-efficient electrocaloric heat pumps
Heat pumps play a decisive role in the energy transition in Germany: Sustainably generated electricity provides heat in winter and a good climate in summer. Nowadays, heat pumps work almost exclusively on the basis of compressor technology. However, this technology requires harmful refrigerants, the use of which will be restricted even further by law in the future. In the Fraunhofer lighthouse project ElKaWe, six Fraunhofer Institutes are developing highly efficient electrocaloric heat pumps that operate with nonhazardous fluids such as water.
The materials and components of the solidstate heat pumps must be stable over the long term, sufficiently available, cost-effective and nonhazardous in every respect. Fraunhofer IKTS has extensive experience with ceramic electrocaloric materials. Fraunhofer IAP and Fraunhofer LBF contribute their expertise in the development of polymer materials. Fraunhofer FEP develops special coatings to insulate and functionalize components. In addition to the functional polymers, Fraunhofer LBF will also investigate the service life and reliability of the materials and systems. Fraunhofer IAF will develop the electrical control for the heat pumps. Fraunhofer IPM ensures rapid heat dissipation by means of a new patented system approach based on heat pipes in combination with thermal diodes, thus creating the conditions for particularly efficient heat pumps.
More information about the project can be found at www.elkawe.org.